Families, friends and locals flocked to the Portola City Park on July 16to enjoy an afternoon of sun and steak served up by the Portola Volunteer Fire Department as a part of its annual Beef Feed fundraiser.
By all accounts, this year’s Beef Feed was a huge success, and attendee Charlene Sanchez said that the turnout seemed almost twice as large as last year’s.
Throughout the afternoon, kids swung on swings while enjoying red and blue cotton candy, adults sipped beverages at packed tables and dogs lounged in the sun, snatching up scraps of beef that fell into the grass.
A buffet was set up toward the back of the event stocked full of beef, salad, savory beans, and bread with plenty of butter. The smell of beef wafted all the way up to the hospital when the wind picked up in the late afternoon.
Volunteer firefighters Henry Johnson and Chris Sherrard roasted the beef over a deep, concrete fire pit.
Beyond the beef buffet, people were buying beer and drawing tickets at a blue booth in front of the main table area.
To the side of the blue booth, a sign jokingly proclaimed: “If you voted yes on measure B, beer is free. If you voted no on measure B, beer is $5 a cup.”
Measure B, also known locally as the proposed “fire tax,” was a failed measure which promised to invest more taxpayer money into the volunteer fire department.
This year’s prize drawing was for an entire cord of wood chopped down near Lake Davis by Portola Fire volunteer Sharon Tanguay.
Beyond the entrance fee, food and beverage profits and the drawing, the department also received several checks donated throughout the day, ranging from $50 to $300.
The fire department set up a dunk tank in the park and fire volunteers took turns manning the board, hoping all the while that they didn’t get dunked by folks armed with baseballs.
Younger kids and teenagers seemed particularly drawn to the dunk tank and many cheated by walking up and hitting the yellow target, which triggered the dunk tank’s release valve.
Oftentimes the unlucky volunteers who were forced into the water splashed at the cheaters who unfairly dunked them, but they did so always in jest and often with a quip about how the kids were not following the rules.
Kids ran around the park freely, playing with blown up balls, throwing footballs back and forth and sliding down the red slide that is nestled toward the front end of the green field.
Amanda Duff, Portola Fire lieutenant and secretary, and Logan Reese, newly minted Portola Fire captain, drove around Portola during the latter part of the event, delivering food to about 10 people who were unable to visit the park themselves.
“I’m just glad we are becoming more visible in the local community,” Duff said, while delivering food around Portola.
Locals who are interested in contributing to the fire department should attend one of the department’s upcoming Concert in the Park events hosted at Portola City Park on Fridays or should reach out to the department directly over the phone or in person.